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Top 10 Stephen King Novels

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp

These are novels that all true Constant Readers should be familiar with. For this list, we’ll be looking at the best novels from the master of horror, Stephen King, from “Pet Sematary”, to “The Dead Zone”, and “The Green Mile”. WatchMojo counts down the Top 10 Stephen King Novels.

Special thanks to our user DonovanTPS for suggesting this idea! Check out the voting page at https://www.WatchMojo.comsuggest/Top+10+Stephen+King+Novels.

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Script written by Nathan Sharp

Top 10 Stephen King Novels


These are novels that all true Constant Readers should be familiar with. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten Stephen King novels.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the best novels from the master of horror, Stephen King. We’ll only be including full-length novels, so short story collections and novellas like “The Mist” and “The Body” won’t be included, despite how awesome they are.

#10: “Pet Sematary” (1983)


While “Pet Sematary” may not be King’s greatest piece of work, it is arguably his darkest and scariest. The story follows the Creed family and the titular Pet Sematary, a mysterious location that can seemingly bring the dead back to life. Once a tragedy occurs in the family, Louis Creed invokes the powers of the “sematary” to horrible and tragic results. It’s a terrific piece of dark and terrifying literature, so much so that King initially didn’t want it published on the grounds of it being too bleak. However, for those who like their stories hopeless and scary, “Pet Sematary” is a must-read.

#9: “The Dead Zone” (1979)


Most Constant Readers would argue that 1970s King was peak King, and “The Dead Zone” is no exception. The book follows a man named Johnny Smith who gains precognition after an accident and waking from a subsequent coma. While the novel was made into a great movie starring Christopher Walken, the book – as is often the way – is better. While this novel isn’t as popular as some of his others, it’s still a thrill-a-minute, can’t-put-it-down escapade that is eerily relevant in today’s political climate. For “The Dead Zone,” King largely forgoes horror and replaces it with suspense and thrills, but the results are just as intoxicating.

#8: “The Green Mile” (1996)


“The Green Mile” is unlike anything Stephen King has written. The serial novel was initially released in six short paperbacks on a monthly basis between March and August 1996 before being published as one whole novel, and this undoubtedly helped build the suspense and tension in what is already an extremely tense and mysterious story. “The Green Mile” is exciting, touching, and sad, and it features one of King’s greatest creations, John Coffey, the seemingly dangerous but innocent inmate who has magical abilities. It’s one of King’s most dramatic and literary works, and easily one of his best.

#7: “11/22/63” (2011)


“11/22/63” proves that King has still got it after all these years. The book is absolutely gargantuan, but the story is so well-told and intriguing that you never notice how long it truly is. The basic story follows a man named Jake Epping who travels back in time to try and stop the Kennedy assassination. And while this storyline is absorbing and exciting, the novel also travels down many branching paths that are all equally as captivating. The numerous narratives throughout remain tight and engaging, and the pace rarely falters despite its immense length. It is not only King’s best recent effort but also one of his best, period.

#6: “Misery” (1987)


While the novel is fantastic, many people know the story of “Misery” from the movie starring Kathy Bates, which is certainly not a bad thing. Her portrayal of Annie Wilkes is simply superb, as she successfully and realistically brought one of King’s most terrifying characters to vivid life. The novel forgoes any sense of the supernatural or mystical and focuses solely on a nail-biting game of cat-and-mouse between a resourceful writer and his psychotic fan. The novel’s realism, its numerous disgusting passages, and the disturbing character of Annie combine to make one of King’s most unsettling pieces of fiction.

#5: “‘Salem’s Lot” (1975)


Vampire stories have been around for centuries, but few can rival the sheer power of King’s second punlished novel. The story follows writer Ben Mears who returns to his hometown of Jerusalem's Lot, Maine (aka, Salem’s Lot) only to become embroiled in a dark mystery that looks behind the idyllic white picket fences. Revealing a world of suspicion, murder, and vampires, it all culminates in a showdown of good versus evil. “‘Salem’s Lot” is undoubtedly one of King’s greatest accomplishments – it was nominated for the Locus Award for All-Time Best Fantasy Novel, and King himself calls it his favorite story. The characters, intimate setting, quickly-escalating plot, and chilling imagery all ensure this novel’s legacy as a classic piece of horror literature.

#4: “It” (1986)


There are a handful of King novels that could be considered his greatest, and “It” is one of them. “It” is both two things – a horrific story about a mysterious alien entity who terrifies and eats children, and a touching, nostalgic coming-of-age story reminiscent of Steven Spielberg’s body of work. This combination of genres ensures that “It” is always interesting despite its daunting length, and the novel’s scariest scenes are some of the most unsettling passages in King’s entire bibliography. “It” has always been a beloved story that has shocked millions, and it is an undisputed horror classic.

#3: “The Shining” (1977)


“The Shining” contains numerous excellent individual components that together create one of the best horror novels of modern times. Jack Torrance is one of King’s most unforgettable creations; the Overlook Hotel is one of horror’s most formidable and ominous presences; and its themes of alcoholism and family degradation ensure that the novel has a very thematic heart amidst all the horror. It’s a touching story of unbreakable familial bonds, a horrific look into the dangers of alcoholism, and one of the scariest haunted house stories of all time rolled into one. With this novel (only his third), King cemented his reputation as a storyteller of immense talents.

#2: “The Dark Tower” series (1982-2004; 2012)


It’s a shame that Sony’s “The Dark Tower” movie was so bland, because this series needs to reach more people. It is arguably King’s best and most inventive piece of work. The story follows Roland Deschain and his ka-tet as they try to reach the enigmatic Dark Tower. However, like a lot of epic fiction, this is only a MacGuffin of sorts to tell a sprawling story of friendship and destiny that is filled with some of King’s scariest, most exciting, and most humane passages. It also connects to most of King’s other works in various ways, leading many King aficionados to declare “The Dark Tower” his masterpiece.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Cujo” (1981)

“Carrie” (1974)

“The Long Walk” (1979)


#1: “The Stand” (1978)


When it comes to King masterpieces, two stories are often brought up: “The Dark Tower” and “The Stand,” and cases could be made for both. “The Stand” is basically two novels in one – the first concerns the progression of a global pandemic and the subsequent collapse of civilization, and the second follows two groups of survivors who become embroiled in a battle of literally Biblical proportions. “The Stand” is arguably King’s scariest novel due to its basis in real world fears, and its characters are some of his most memorable and complex. M-O-O-N, that spells memorable! While some may bemoan the ending, the preceding 1,000 or so pages of the complete and uncut version is King at his finest.

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